Off the Record

by AVA News Service, October 27, 2010

THE SAD SAGA of Captain Fathom continues. Monday morning about 8 I walked into Pic 'N Pay to buy a Chronicle. I couldn't help but notice a flashy black Mercedes out front. A sedate, prosperous-looking middle-age woman sat in the passenger seat, not that I expect Mercedes people to be particularly animated at that time of day. A contented dog was alert in the back seat. The haute bourgeoisie tend not to pause in this part of Boonville. Inside the store stood Captain Fathom, aka Allan Graham, legendary resident of Albion, a man I've known for a long time, before he ran permanently off the rails. The Captain was bleary-eyed and manic. “My girl friend Kathy just bought Jackson State Forest” he began, as I grabbed the paper and backed out of the store. “I'm waiting for her so we can get married in Ukiah.” The Captain followed me outside, babbling about how he was the bastard son of Mussolini, as I recalled that he'd once been booked into the County Jail with his place of birth marked, “Genoa, Italy.” The man driving the Mercedes said, “Allan, are you coming?” The Captain ignored the Samaritan who'd presumably picked him up hitchhiking, one more backfired random kindness. The man got into the Mercedes and drove off. I asked The Captain if he'd just gotten out of jail. “I think so,” he said. The Captain asked if he could come up to the office for a visit. I said it had to be a quick visit because Mondays and Tuesdays are busy for us, as if a mentally impaired person ever worries about imposing him or herself, as if an impaired person can worry about anything other than the demons no one else can see. I had to run an errand. I wasn't in the office, but The Captain visited anyway. He left a note on the phone as a kind of calling card. About 2pm, The Captain again appeared. I told him I didn't have time to listen to him. “Go away,” The Major said. “Forever?” The Captain plaintively called through the door. “Yes,” we said. The things we do for love. Christ spare me. I was already worried that The Captain was so far out of it that he was clearly a danger to himself, if not others. I began to feel guilty about not doing some kind of personal intervention, and I was ashamed at the cruelty of my peremptory stay away order shouted through the wall at a desperately confused man. But what was I to do? I had to work. Other than the County Jail there's no place for guy who needs to be locked up for his own safety, and for this kind of guy to be confined at the County Jail he's got to commit some kind of crime. Fortunately, I guess you can say, I happened to look out the window to see The Captain going through a pick-up truck down below in the parking lot. I called 911. “Come and get Captain Fathom,” I said to the dispatcher who immediately recognized Fathom as a frequent flier. “He looks like he's breaking into vehicles.” The fire extinguisher was missing from the hallway outside our office. I knew Fathom had taken it. I hoped he wouldn't hose someone down with it. We learned the next day Fathom had sold the extinguisher to the guy downstairs for five bucks. The guy, who probably bought it to get Fathom out of his truck, sheepishly returned it to us. Deputy Craig Walker looked around for The Captain but couldn't find him. The Deputy knows Fathom. All the deputies know Fathom. “I found him sleeping on the side of the road once,” deputy Walker said. Much later in the day, Supervisor John Pinches appeared. He said there's nothing firm yet but the County is working towards an arrangement with Lake County to perhaps house people like The Captain in the old Howard Hospital in Willits when the new hospital, Gary Bodenheim Memorial, gets built. That's years away, if ever. In the mean time, there are about fifty frequent fliers like Fathom wandering around the County with no place to go, dying faster than they otherwise would, dying in lieu of, you might say.

IN AN ANSWER to a series of questions asked by the Fort Bragg Advocate-News last week, DA Candidate Meredith Lintott said that if re-elected she would, “continue with my record of sending violent offenders to prison to keep Mendocino County safe while continuing my programs, which hold offenders accountable for their actions offering education and training, where appropriate. To streamline the flow of multi-defendant cases, I plan to impanel a criminal grand jury.”

PICKING THROUGH the prose rubble here, some of which implies that violent offenders are now held accountable and “education and training where appropriate” is being delivered, DA Lintott’s promise to “impanel a criminal grand jury” is an idea whose time came years ago, and disappeared immediately. If the DA fears trying Garrett Matson for the murder of Fort Bragg's Katlyn Long, maybe she could get a criminal grand jury to do Matson's indictment for her, the point being that even if the case isn't a slam dunk the guy ought to at least be made to sweat it out before a jury. As it stands, Matson hasn't been inconvenienced by so much as a police interrogatory. He hired Richard Petersen to run interference for him that's where murder charges seem to have disappeared. In Mendocino County, you get yourself a good attorney and you can get away with just about everything.

ANOTHER ODD REMARK was DA Lintott’s statement that “In these dire budget times, the size of the budget bears no correlation to the size of our workload.” Why? Because “our office has been assisted through these times by the hiring of ‘extra-help’ attorneys and volunteer certified legal interns.”
LET’S SEE if we get this straight. The size of the DA’s budget bears “no correlation” to the size of the DA’s workload because of some extra-help attorneys and interns? Who’s supervising and training the interns? Doesn’t that increase the budget? Is an extra-help attorney that much cheaper than regular attorney? Is DA Lintott saying that whatever (unspecified) increase there’s been in her office’s workload, the solution is to simply hire more attorneys and interns and it all works out in the end? And is there really no correlation, as a result?

LAST WEEK County CEO Carmel Angelo posted a job opening for a replacement County Budget Officer to replace Jennifer Wyatt who resigned several months ago. Lots of County employees are wondering why they’re being asked to cut back and suffer continuing layoffs while the Supes hire a $70k-$80k budget specialist they haven't seemed to need since the departure of Ms. Wyatt.

ACE WEAVER BETTY LOU WHALEY presently has on exhibit at the Fort Bragg Library fourteen small looms not only designed by the talented Ms. Whaley but made by her from tan oak. Each has a band woven on it, beginning with an early American band loom of the type used to weave wicks for whale oil lamps. Step-by-step directions are available for copying.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: “Inside Job,” a visual account of how a small handful of high end crooks looted the international financial system, but were promptly hired by the Obama Administration to regulate the banking system they'd just ripped off. This fine documentary also manages to nicely unmask highly placed academics like Laura Tyson and the entire econ faculty of Harvard as the economic cranks that they are as they provide “scholarly” gloss for criminals like Henry Paulson. Loyd Blankfein, Geithner, and lead bagman, Ben Bernanke. These people managed to destabilizing whole economies, including ours, and now they're “regulating” it. The only question now is how fast the rest of it unravels.

RENE di ROSA has died. I'm only one among many sorry to see him go. Since 1997, di Rosa has presided over what to me, a philistine whose art opinions should be considered with that admission in mind, is easily the most interesting collection of art in Northern California. Some of you have probably visited the di Rosa Preserve in southern Napa County. If you haven't, you're missing a unique aesthetic experience. The old man maintains four fairly large gallery buildings at his Napa place along with a whole bunch of outdoor sculptures. Unlike the Frisco museums, which are heavy on trendo-groove-o stuff of no artistic merit whatsoever, such as a collection of rocks arranged in a V on the floor, and where you're followed around by black clad young, pale, thin people who look like they survive on full moon baby blood, there's nothing stuffy or pretentious about di Rosa's collection. You need to make reservations to get in, but it's worth it, and doubly worth it if you're a parent wanting to get your little savages to begin to appreciate pure imagination.

MAN BEATER of the Week honors go to Miss Martha Elisabeth Corral-House, 23, Fort Bragg. Martha is 5-3, 170, a heft not suggested by her mug shot but, if she's in shape, enough to give her punch some staying power. If our full frontal phrenologies can be relied upon, we read in
Miss Corral-House's pretty puss a good person involved with an ungallant young man who called the cops just because Martha hooked him one. Dump him, Martha! Get yourself a man, maybe a Giants fan, a guy who won't go all to pieces just because you pop him now and then! There isn't a man alive who doesn't have it coming! Next time, Martha, knock his arse out and cut the phone line so he can't call the cops on you.

CREDITING DAN HAMBURG with the Headwaters deal, as his partisans are doing and as his detractors are simultaneously bopping him for not doing, ignores Hamburg's truly principled stand at the time which, boiled down, consisted merely of denouncing the Headwaters sale as another massive gift of tax money to Charles Hurwitz, a Texas-based S&L crook. Everyone from the self-certified tree martyrs of Earth First! to Northcoast Democrats (natch) signed on to an agreement that gave Hurwitz $480 million for 7,472 acres of trees after Hurwitz had helped himself to Pacific Lumber's worker pension fund and had accelerated the cut at the previously sustained-yield timber company he'd stolen via junk bonds, the upshot being the final nail in the coffin of Humboldt County's timber economy. Although Diane Feinstein's husband, Richard Blum had done high finance heists with Hurwitz, Feinstein brokered the deal. (We still have the press release from Darryl Cherney and the late Judi Bari saying what a swell deal it was.) Hamburg was widely criticized at the time for opposing the gift to Hurwitz, but the Headwaters bill he'd introduced as a Congressman had gone nowhere. Feinstein stepped in for hubbykins' old buddy Hurwitz and Hurwitz rode off to Texas with another huge chunk of public cash. Soon after, the comely Miss Butterfly fluttered up an old tree on another piece of HumCo property that Hurwitz owned and, in a matter of weeks, movie stars and musicians, and whole choruses of druids, were gathered below singing, “Ooooh luna lulu oolu.” Hurwitz finally paid Miss Butterfly to flutter down out of the tree, the money going to Humboldt State's Forestry Department to teach kids how to cut trees down better, and Miss Fly fluttered south to a big house and a new car in the Oakland hills to write big selling woo-woo books.

DEPARTMENT of unintentional hilarity: Jared Carter's letter-to-the-editor in this week's paper where Carter describes himself as “apolitical.” An active Republican all his many days, Carter was an under secretary in one of the Nixon governments and has been a major shot-caller among Northcoast conservatives for many years. Locally, Carter has gotten two lawyers from his office appointed to the Mendocino County Superior Court.

THE CARTOON BELOW nicely summarizes the true state of Prop 19, the so-called marijuana legalization law. Pebs Trippet wrote to me the other day to mildly denounce me for “lining up with the Sheriff” on 19. One more time: I'm against 19 because the feds remain zero tolerance, meaning enforcement will continue, and maybe even increase locally if 19 passes. Until the feds at least permit individual states to decide marijuana policies, as the feds eventually did with booze, nothing will change if 19 passes except a whole lot more people will begin growing and the bottom will drop out of pot prices. Mendocino County has a strong, full-time DEA presence. They drive the enforcement bus here, not Sheriff Allman. And they'll keep on driving it whether or not 19 becomes “law.” Additionally, 19 is so poorly drafted (by the indoor warehouse tycoons of the Bay Area who stand to benefit the most from it) that it will only add to the prevailing local enforcement and prosecution confusion. It also contains traps, like making it a felony to hand a kid a joint, not that anyone should be encouraging young people to smoke a drug that is very, very bad for the young in their formative years, sapping their energy and generally retarding them in the context of a deteriorating political economy in which they will need all the education and acuity they can muster to survive. Marijuana makes people dumber and slower, as a mere glance around Mendocino County confirms. Worst of all, if 19 passes it will make life much harder for the thousands of people on the North Coast who now depend on marijuana for a good part of their annual income. It is better for our economy to keep dope illegal because it keeps prices at reasonably lucrative levels. Pebs and Co. should be encouraging more dope raids, not fewer because the cops annually take off enough of the stuff to support a reasonable return for local farmers. (Don't bother to write in to tell me how contradictory these opinions are. I know, I know, but hobgoblins and little minds…)

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